Inside looking out: Perpetual November
A man I was talking with recently said a friend of his from California asked him to describe the weather in the western Poconos.
“It’s perpetual November here,” he told his friend. “From September through April it’s often gloomy. Foggy, rainy, windy with some snow and sunny days mixed in with a temperature range from the 20s to the 60s.”
I thought about his forecast for a moment.
“You’re pretty much right on,” I said with a wry smile.
Scientists tell us that strokes and heart attacks Increase during the winter months. Blood vessels naturally constrict during colder weather, which leads to higher blood pressure in the body. As a naturally occurring survival mechanism in all mammals, blood vessels constrict to maintain body temperature and control heat in the winter. Blood pressure rises because there’s less room for the blood to move through the circulatory system.
Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs frequently among people who live under constant cloud cover or reduced sunlight. In people diagnosed with this disorder, depression usually sets in at the onset of fall and dissipates when the Earth cycles back to spring at their location.
Although SAD can affect most anyone, women seem to experience this type of depression more than do men. Symptoms include irritability, concentration issues, changes in sleeping and eating habits, lethargy and loss of interest in once enjoyable activities. The cure: sunlight, vitamin D or hours spent beneath light-therapy lamps. Let’s not forget that when winter keeps us inside our homes, we eat more, we drink more and we exercise less.
If you are thinking of moving to a state where the yearly weather improves health and length of life, you’ll need to go to Hawaii or California, according to recent studies. If that is too far away, then you can go to Naples, Florida, rated the second healthiest city in the United States.
While I climb the ladder to clean the leaves from the gutters, I feel the cold wind biting the back of my neck. A frigid drizzle numbs my fingers and my mind wanders to a white sandy beach in Jamaica I drank piña coladas on many years ago. I wonder if Jamaicans ever get bored of 85 degree sun-drenched afternoons. Of course, the occasional rain clouds will drift over the emerald waves that are lapping the beach crest, just to remind the natives that paradise doesn’t come everyday.
Victorian artist John Ruskin wrote, “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”
I wonder if Ruskin ever had to navigate a vehicle through fog on Route 903 that was so thick, you can see 5 feet of road in front of the end of the hood of your car, or did he ever have to scrape the ice off a windshield in the dark at 5 o’clock in the morning.
I’m an outdoor guy and I love the four seasons, or the three seasons we get here because I cannot recall the last time we experienced spring. You can’t beat cool mountain summer breezes over a crystal lake or walking along a dirt trail this time of year with the autumn leaves ablaze in spectacular color, and what compares to the peace you feel within the silence of a soft snowfall?
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”
After many days of rain, and we all know there have been far too many, you look at the same tree the same field or the same piece of sky, you will see something different every single day.
Emerson believed that the seasons reflect the emotions we wear on our faces and the moods we express are influenced by the weather. He would most likely say that despite what Mother Nature sends us, we should never fill our hearts with perpetual November.
You can almost hear his calming voice in this message. “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, and love to complete your life.”
Good weather or not, each of us gets to create the climate of our character and whether we bring sunshine or rain upon our relationships with others.
Emerson says it better than I ever could.
“When you were born you were crying and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone else is crying.”
Rich Strack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.